December 28th, 2017 10:14 AM by Annette Masterson
Many people do frantic internet searches for steps to take before filing a claim with their home owner's insurance. It is good to be prepared before the moment comes when you need to make the claim! I’m taking a little guesswork out of it for you and listing some key steps here:
1) Read your insurance policy. It can be long and sometimes hard to understand, but it is worth the 15-20 minutes of reading to get the basic information. In doing this you’ll know what to do in case you incur damage from a bad storm, fire, burglary or any number of other unfortunate events.
2) If there is a burglary, make sure you call police and file a report. Some home insurance policies require that you file a police report if any theft has occurred. Don’t delay as this is a timely matter and a report is not easily filed after time has passed.
3) Document everything. Smartphones and digital cameras make it easier to take photos or video of any damage or evidence. As soon as possible, be sure to take photos of anything pertinent to the potential claim. You’ll need this documentation in order to file the claim but also in case you need to appeal due to your insurance company giving you a lower payout than you believe you deserve.
4) In addition to photos and video, be sure to write everything out with a date, time and details of the incident. If there is any damage or injury on your property, you will want to be able to show a complete timeline of events. This will also help make the claims process much quicker. As soon as possible, be sure to write down everything that was lost due to burglary, fire or storm. Insurance will ask you to provide a “proof of loss” form and you’ll need that document with the values of each item.
5) Be sure to not throw away any items or evidence that are pertinent to the claim. You don’t want to take the risk of throwing something away that is important to the claim. If you begin cleanup or fixing anything prior to the claim, save any receipt and document all work. You are required to mitigate any further damage to the best of your ability.
6) If you are renting, you’ll want to notify your landlord as soon as possible. Often the landlord’s home owner’s insurance will need to cover any structural damage. Again, be sure to document everything!
7) Lastly, begin researching public adjusters. If you feel that you don’t get a fair estimate for your damage, you can hire a public adjuster who will negotiate with the insurance company for you. This is an additional cost, but can sometimes be worth the expense. You can find a public adjuster on the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters' website at www.napia.com.
And remember, this weekend is going to be COLD! Avoid needing to file any insurance claims for water damage by keeping your pipes warm and dripping!
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Annette Masterson is a licensed broker with EXIT Realty Bob Lamb & Associates in Murfreesboro, TN. She has developed one of the most successful real estate teams in Rutherford County, known as Masterson Network, that specializes in new home construction and residential listings and sales throughout Middle Tennessee. You can email Annette at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 615-896-5656 (Office) or 615-533-1660 (Cell) for more information.